Thirteen passengers in TX deadly hot air balloon crash ID’ed

The partial frame of a hot air balloon is visible above a crop field as investigators comb the wreckage of a crash Saturday, July 30, 2016, in Central Texas near Lockhart, Texas. (Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

CALDWELL COUNTY, Texas (KXAN/WOOD) — Thirteen of the 16 victims who were in the hot air balloon that crashed in a field west of Lockhart, Texas Saturday morning have been identified by family members and family friends.

A public memorial is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6 at 7:30 a.m. on the east lawn of the Caldwell County Courthouse in Lockhart.

Alfred “Skip” Nichols, Pilot 

Alfred Skip Nichols balloon crash
Skip Nichols, the pilot who died in a hot air balloon crash near Lockhart on July 30, 2016. (Facebook Photo)

The pilot, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, died with 15 others when the balloon hit utility lines off of State Highway 142.

CNN confirmed the pilot’s identity after speaking with Alan Lirette, the ground crew supervisor who was working with Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides. Lirette said he helped load the other 15 passengers into the basket of the hot air balloon. Lirette called Nichols his “best friend, boss and roommate,” in an interview at his home in Kyle. “[Nichols] was a great pilot,” he said.

Joe Owens and Tresa Shafer Owens

Joe Owens Tresa Shafer Owens balloon crash victims
A courtesy photo showing Joe Owens and Tresa Shafer Owens. (GoFundMe Page Photo)

Husband and wife Joe and Tresa Owens were also on board the balloon when it crashed. The couple was from Katy, Texas.

“They adored their children and grandchildren, and loved nothing more than spending time with them,” stated a GoFundMe page set up to help cover the couple’s funeral expenses.

The page says Tresa had a long career at TigerLane Preschool.

Paige Brabson and Lorilee Brabson

Texas hot air balloon crash victims Lorilee and Paige Brabson
Lorilee Brabson, left, and her daughter Paige Brabson (Facebook/YouTube Photos)

Paige and her mother, Lorilee, were on the balloon that crashed, family confirmed Sunday.

Paige had her first child a few months ago and the trip was a Mother’s Day gift from Paige to her mom.

A relative asked people to pray for his family. The mother and daughter are from San Antonio.

Sunday and Matt Rowan

Texas balloon crash victims Matt Rowan and Sunday Rowan
A Facebook photo of Matt and Sunday Rowan prior to the hot air balloon ride. (Facebook photo/KXAN)

Sunday and Matt Rowan both grew up in College Station, Texas. The two, both 34, married in February.

Matt was a professor and burn treatment researcher. Sunday had a 5-year-old son.

The two posted on social media pictures of them prior to getting into the hot air balloon.

Matt’s brother, Josh Rowan, told The Associated Press: “It’s a bit haunting now but I guess it was a bit of a play-by-play.”

Texas balloon crash last photo NBC
One of the last photos taken by Matt Rowan before the balloon crashed. (Photo via NBC)

Brian and Tressie Neill

Texas balloon crash victims Brian and Tressie Neill
Brian and Tressie Neill (via GoFundMe site)

According to a GoFundMe site, Brian and Tressie Neill were from San Antonio, Texas and had been married for 23 years.

The page says Brian surprised his wife with the hot air balloon trip.

The page also states while in the air, Brian sent his brother a picture and stated, “can you see our reflection in the clouds?”

The couple leaves behind two daughters.

Rey Lopez, a former pastor at the church the Neill family attends in San Antonio, says he got to know the Neills during a camping trip through church five to seven years ago.

“They were just very involved in the church. They were one of those families that, as a model, you want your own family to be,” Lopez said.

Scott and Laura Douglas

The Justice of the Peace in Lockhart said they have only officially identified one person from the crash: Scott Douglas. According to the Victoria Advocate, the couple was from Victoria, Texas.

Texas balloon crash victims John and Stacee Gore
John, 33, and Stacee Gore, 31. (Courtesy: KXAS)

John and Stacee Gore

John, 33, and Stacee Gore, 31, were from Mineral Wells, Texas.

The Gores were celebrating their third wedding anniversary with the balloon ride, according to WOOD TV8’s sister station KXAS in Dallas.

The couple each had two children — three boys and one girl — when they married in 2013.


The original version of this story was first published on KXAN.com.

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